I Am The Fat Chick

Why am I calling myself that?  Well, mainly because… I AM!  But it’s also because the term “fat” is beginning to take on a new meaning for me.  An innocuous one.  Until very recently, I used it to degrade myself.  Now, it’s simply a statement of fact.  I’m a chick, and I’m fat.

I’ve always been fat.  Or, well… fatTER than what people see as “normal.”

As a child, I was overweight.  Looking back on the photos now, I really wasn’t THAT overweight.  I’m not even sure if what I’m calling overweight would be medically considered to be overweight.  But it was drummed into my head on a daily basis from peers, teachers, even family, that I was FAT.  And NOBODY likes a fat girl.  Nobody was ever going to like me, let alone love me, if I remained fat.

At age 11, I started my first diet.  I was allowed to eat whatever I wanted, but I had to keep my carbs below 60.  Age 11 and I’m obsessively looking things up in a book to see if it’s “okay” to eat them or not.  How’s that for some good mental health? (<~dripping sarcasm)

By the age of 14, I was all the way up to 145 lbs.  Boy, was I ever FAT!  Oh yeah… but I was the same height I am now.  I stopped growing by the age of 12.  Funny how that works, huh?  At 14, 145 lbs. was “OMG!  GROSS!!”  But at 31, I’d give my left tit to be 145.

Then my depression really hit me.  My last suicide attempt was at age 15, and my grandmother (who raised me most of my life) did the only thing she could to help me: she packed me off to a group home.  In some ways, it was a good thing.  But there I was, sent away from everybody and everything I’d ever loved, at age 15.  There was only one thing left to comfort me: food.

And boy, did I eat.  Between the ages of 15-17, I gained 50 lbs. from comfort eating.  By the time I realized what I was doing to myself, the damage had already been done.  I wasn’t just a little bit overweight, I was F-A-T.

I should mention that during this entire time, I was mentally abusing myself.  Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw a huge blob of a person looking back at me, and the vicious cycle would begin.  I hated myself for looking fat, so I ate to make myself feel better.  Then I hated myself for eating.  And on and on and on it went.

I honestly think it wouldn’t have been so bad if I’d had even one person to tell me that being fat didn’t make me a bad person.  But the only person who ever said anything like that was over 1,000 miles away and I only saw her once every couple of years or so (that would be one of my aunts).  All I ever did hear was that I was too fat, I should go on a diet, nobody was ever going to love me, I couldn’t do anything right, etc.

Then, 5 days after my high school graduation, I found out I was…. *gasp*…. pregnant.

What is one of the worst things that can happen to a fat girl?  Getting pregnant.

I had toxcemia and pre-eclampsya, which caused me to gain nearly 70 lbs. of water weight.  My body looked like a stuffed sausage ready to burst.  I could press my finger into my flesh and leave an indentation that would stay there for hours.  Funnily enough, though, 2 weeks after having my 9 lb. daughter, I was back down to just 5 lbs. above my pre-pregnancy weight.

But all that water weight did a real doozy to my body.  I looked like Freddy Kreuger had a party on my stomach.  And my stomach?!  Egads… it had gotten so stretched out that it now sagged past my hoo-hah.

How’s THAT for a body image?  Fat AND saggy… at 19.

I tried dieting, I tried exercising, I tried starving myself… and the only time I seemed to lose any real weight was when I was with my abusive ex-fiancee (not the father of my oldest, but the father of my 2nd daughter), who wouldn’t work and wouldn’t allow me to work.  We lived off of the kindness of others (i.e. food banks and my grandmother’s money).  My daughter would get fed first, then him, and then – IF there was anything left – only THEN was I allowed to eat anything.  (Yes, I know, it’s a good thing I got away from him, isn’t it?)  Between the stress of living with someone like that and eating maybe 2 or 3 meals a week, is it any surprise that I finally managed to lose weight?

But then…

Living in a homeless shelter for 2 years and living on highly processed and/or high-fat foods didn’t help me any.  I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes while pregnant with my second daughter, and my doctor didn’t believe me when I told him that I didn’t sit there and eat cakes all day.  I actually had to call the woman who ran the shelter into the consulting room with me so SHE could tell him what I ate (she was always there and always around, so she was a good back-up).  My weight steadily crept up and up and up.

Then I finally found my feet, got my own place, and started to take care of my life on my own.  I started trying to take care of myself in terms of diet and exercise.  Did I lose weight?  Hell no.

But something else took place.  I started to get healthier mentally, even without my medication (couldn’t afford it).  I had a wonderful relationship with a man that did nothing but BOOST my self-esteem.  He was full of compliments and said things every time we were together that made me feel better about myself.  However, that relationship didn’t last; rarely can a largely one-sided relationship last for very long.  (I loved him, he didn’t love me.  However, he was always honest about it and it was okay with me for a while, until I got to the point where I needed more.  Which meant no more him.)

Then I met my husband on the internet.  After a week of constant talking (I was temporarily unemployed at the time, so I didn’t have much better to do than talk to him), he told me he loved me.  After two months, I kind of “accidentally” asked him to marry me (long story).  After 3 months, he made the decision to come to the US to be with me.  After 4 months, he WAS in the US with me.  Within 2 months of that, we WERE married.

Throughout all of this, as much as I did feel better about myself (thanks to that ex of mine), there was a part of me that still worried that he would wake up one day and realize that he didn’t want a fat wife.  It got so bad that, the night before our wedding, it escalated into a huge blow-out fight and I ended up throwing my engagement ring in his face.  All because I couldn’t stand it if he married me and left me later.  If he was going to leave me, I’d rather it be before the wedding – even the night before – than after the fact.  And I was so convinced that he was going to do it that I tried to give him a way out.

Ironically, the time when I managed to lose the most weight was when I was…. wait for it… pregnant with my 3rd child.  Yes, you read that right: WHILE I was pregnant.  The funny thing?  I wasn’t even close to dieting.  As a matter of fact, I was eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  And boy, did I have some strange cravings.  Pizza and lemons (not lemons ON pizza, I just wanted pizza AND I wanted lemons).  Huge BAGS of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (and Hubby was SO thoughtful, he’d go to the store and buy me the huge bags… just ‘cuz).  Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches… like 3-4 times a day (okay, that one was more out of necessity than anything – we didn’t have much money, so I was eating them for breakfast, snack, lunch, and another snack).  But somehow I managed to lose 15 lbs. off of my pre-pregnancy weight… BEFORE the kid was even BORN.  She was an 8 lb. 5 oz. baby.  You do the math, but don’t forget all the other weight that a pregnant woman normally gains (amniotic fluid, etc.).  We’re talking close to 30 lbs. here.  I knew, right then and there, that this kid was going to be just like her father: a beanpole, able to eat whatever she wanted and still stay as skinny as a stick.  And I was right.  She’s 7 now, and out of all of my kids, she’s the skinniest.  Even her younger sister (my “baby,” who’s 5 now) didn’t get so lucky.

The funny thing is, after 8 years (yes, that was 8 years ago), my self-esteem and body image seem to have gotten worse, not better.  I’m not sure exactly why.  I know some things that have a factor in it.  My husband had an affair in 2004, and that certainly gave my self-esteem a blow.  As a matter of fact, it validated every single bad or negative thing I’d ever thought about myself.  But I can’t place all the blame at his feet, because it had started long before any of that ever did.

I honestly think that giving up my job to move to the UK and become a stay-at-home-mom actually played a part in it, too.  I used to have a purpose in life – I went to work to provide for my family, and Hub stayed home and took care of the kids. (That’s another long story, let’s just say that the reason he couldn’t work was solely because of the American INS – they screwed him over BIG TIME.)  I actually had a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  And I had friends.  Now… not so much.  I get up, I get the kids ready for school, I come home, I clean, I pick up the kids from school, I clean, I put the kids to bed, I clean….  Can you see what I mean?  I used to have an identity.  I wasn’t just a wife and mother, I was an employee, a friend, a daughter, a sister… but now the only contact I have on a regular basis is with the people that live in my house.  Let me tell you, that’ll do a doozy to your self-esteem.

I still struggle with it, every day.  I can’t walk out the door to go to the corner shop without worrying about what somebody might be whispering about me behind my back. 

But I’m beginning to learn that my fatness doesn’t define me.  It is a part of me, yes.  It’ll probably always be a part of me, although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to lose weight.  However, my thinking is beginning to change a bit.  I’ve always viewed healthy eating and exercise as a means to an end: to lose weight.  In my head, that’s the only reason a person would eat right or exercise, to lose weight. 

But now I’m realizing that I need to do those things, to take care of myself, regardless of whether or not my efforts show up on the scale.  Even if I eat the best foods in the world and exercise like I should and don’t lose weight, that’s going to be okay.  Because I’ll still be healthier by doing those things than I would be otherwise.

Like the blog title states, it’s a long and winding road.

I’m just happy that I’ve finally found myself here.


5 Responses

  1. Great post…& greetings from a fellow Anglophile!
    (I, too, had to “cross the pond” to find my hubby — not really, he was already here!) Met him in ’00, married him 10/01/02…
    I enjoy your writing as a fellow “rhino”.

  2. Im Fat to and find it Very sad But u know i dont care what people think u know what i say STICKS AND STONES WILL BREAK MY BONES BUT WORDS WILL NEVER HURT ME,Thats my m odo and it works Im 11 years old 105 pounds and very overweight.

  3. paige, I know you left this comment months ago, but I hope you come back to read this. At 11 years old and 105 pounds, you are NOT overweight, let alone ‘very’ overweight. I’m glad you don’t let the words people say to you get you down, but don’t let yourself think that you’re overweight either. Unless you’re the size of my 7 year old daughter, there’s no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks that you’re overweight.

  4. Wow. This is a very inspiring story. Thanks for sharing it. 🙂

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